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A2P Vitality: How a tech platform is lowering agricultural air pollution and growing clear vitality use in India

Now that the Cisco International Drawback Solver Problem 2022 winners have been formally introduced, you’ll need to study extra about every profitable crew and the story behind every innovation. The Cisco International Drawback Solver Problem is an internet competitors that awards money prizes to early-stage tech entrepreneurs fixing the world’s hardest issues. Since 2017, the competitors has awarded $3.25 million USD to 78 start-ups from 25 nations.

We’re excited so that you can study extra concerning the 2022 profitable groups addressing among the largest challenges we face via technology-based options.

A2P Energy logoOn this weblog we’ll study Agri To Energy (A2P Vitality), winner of the $100,000 USD Local weather Influence and Regeneration Prize. Their resolution addresses the issue of crop waste burning in India, which causes unhealthy air air pollution, damaging carbon emissions, and a monetary burden for already struggling farmers. A2P’s expertise platform makes use of AI and satellite tv for pc imagery to establish areas the place crop waste burning is prevalent, and creates a market the place crop waste might be become clear biofuels as a substitute.

Co-founder and CEO Sukhmeet Singh earned a bachelor’s diploma in mechanical engineering and an MBA earlier than becoming a member of the Indian College of Enterprise, the place he led an entrepreneurship program and consulted with governments and trade on coverage points. In 2018 he co-founded A2P Vitality alongside along with his co-founder Dr. Robert Berry to create a marketplace for biofuels derived from crop waste. I sat down with him to study extra about his journey and the affect A2P is making in India.

What impressed you to develop this resolution?

Sukhmeet: I grew up within the Chandigarh space in northern India. Once I was a baby, there wasn’t as a lot site visitors and industrialization as at present, so it was a lot cleaner. Once I got here again after a number of years of learning and dealing outdoors my metropolis, I had two younger youngsters, and I noticed that each winter there was a variety of smoke and air air pollution. The air high quality index (AQI) is normally round 50 or 60 in cleaner cities, however right here in India it goes as much as 400 or 500. The medical doctors would say to not let the children play outdoors when it’s on the peak. An enormous motive for that is that 35 million tons of crop waste is produced yearly in simply two states in North India, and most of it will get burned on the sector and produces black smoke. Roughly 500 million tons of crop waste is generated yearly in all of India, and a few studies say 30 to 40 % will get burned. On the identical time, 60 to 70 % of the electrical energy generated at thermal energy vegetation in India nonetheless comes from coal burning, and a variety of that could be a low-grade coal.

crop waste
As a lot as 40% of the roughly 500 million tons of crop waste generated
yearly in India is burned, inflicting air air pollution and producing damaging
carbon emissions.

I used to be engaged on a crop diversification coverage undertaking with the Authorities of Punjab the place I interacted with farmers, and I spotted that this was not a farmer-specific downside, it’s a cross-sector downside. There, I used to be launched to Dr. Robert Berry, who was Dean of Engineering at Aston College (UK) and main a European Bioenergy Analysis Institute undertaking exploring using applied sciences to remodel paddy straw into gas and agricultural merchandise. In 2018, we noticed that there was a superb enterprise alternative as a result of on one hand, we now have a variety of agricultural biomass and alternatively we’d like cleaner fuels in thermal energy vegetation. So we determined to start out a corporation, Agri To Energy, to make use of crop waste for energy era.

I’m significantly grateful to Aston College and the Oglesby Charitable Belief for his or her help of the analysis, feasibility institution, and early commercialization of this work.

Are you able to clarify how your resolution works?

biomass briquettes going into a furnace
Biomass briquettes constructed from crop waste present cleaner vitality than coal.

Sukhmeet: By way of amassing the crop waste, we work with farmer entrepreneurs. These are typically youthful people in a village who need to do one thing further other than farming. They spend money on assortment equipment and conduct outreach with particular person farmers to gather the waste from them. This advantages farmers as a result of they don’t seem to be spending time or cash on gas to set their crop waste on hearth. Simply these financial savings alone can enhance their income by seven %.

From the manufacturing facet, we arrange vegetation the place we are able to produce biofuel, which is mainly inexperienced sustainable gas made out of stubble, which is mainly the crop waste. We promote the inexperienced gas to firms that need to shift from utilizing coal to biomass fuels. Know-how additionally performs an necessary function. The time between harvesting one crop and sowing the following crop is roughly 30 to 40 days, and if the gathering shouldn’t be performed inside that point, the crop waste will get burned. So we had the concept to make use of expertise for extra environment friendly assortment of crop waste. We began utilizing satellite tv for pc photographs of areas with a excessive depth of fires, which signifies there may be a considerable amount of crop being burned. This enabled us to concentrate on areas that can have the most important provide of crop waste.

What’s modern about the way in which you might be fixing the problem? What units your resolution aside?

Sukhmeet: A key differentiation for us can be using expertise. We are able to inform via satellite tv for pc imagery the place crop waste is getting burned and the way a lot, so we all know if it’s a superb place to do an intervention. I don’t assume any firm is doing that.

Our expertise platform has additionally turn out to be a market for biofuels. Once we had been establishing manufacturing vegetation, we realized that we are able to’t meet the necessity throughout India. There’s a a lot larger demand for biofuels now as a result of the India authorities has set carbon neutrality targets for all firms. We had been working in [the state of] Punjab however getting many queries from firms in different states that need to shift from coal to biomass fuels. That’s once we realized our expertise platform might additionally allow small biofuel producers, small-scale farmers, and patrons to attach with out our involvement.

Some larger biofuel manufacturing vegetation could need to purchase stubble from as a lot as 10,000 acres. However some households personal solely a small quantity, possibly 6 to 7 acres. That’s the place the platform comes into image: it helps to consolidate small provides of crop waste or biofuels into larger portions for patrons.

The expertise platform has one different profit: it permits firms which are shopping for the biofuels to see their affect. By the dashboard they will see how a lot earnings farmers are producing and the way a lot carbon emissions are being prevented, and all that may circulation instantly into their ESG reporting.

A2P Energy Dashboard
Company patrons of biofuels can use the A2P Vitality dashboard to see the affect they’re having on the setting and on farmers.

How will profitable a prize within the Cisco International Drawback Solver Problem assist you to advance what you are promoting?

Sukhmeet: We’re in a spot proper now the place we need to scale up from a product and expertise perspective, and likewise from a go-to-market perspective. With out this funding, we might discover it very tough to scale. Now we are able to rent people who find themselves extra environmental centered, or who’ve a expertise background and may work with corporates to in the end assist them of their journey to shift from fossil fuels to those inexperienced fuels. As I mentioned, India has already set internet zero targets, so we really feel there’s an ideal alternative proper now for this type of product, and this prize cash will assist us seize that market by scaling our complete platform.

What recommendation do you may have for different social entrepreneurs?

Sukhmeet: It’s very laborious when you find yourself in a sector the place it’s a must to change habits, so acknowledge that it’ll be a protracted journey. However persist with your core, and don’t lose sight of why you began the group. Construct merchandise, each bodily merchandise or expertise, check out beta merchandise, and attempt to get to market as quickly as attainable. Getting buyer suggestions is basically, actually crucial, too. The journey of being an entrepreneur is thrilling, however it’s a protracted journey. You simply have to stay to it.

Keep tuned for extra articles in our weblog collection, that includes interviews with each Cisco International Drawback Solver Problem 2022 profitable crew!




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